The new leader of Clifty Creek Elementary School is looking forward to continued success as he builds relationships with students and staff.

Michael Parsons, 35, was hired by the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. in May to take over as principal after his predecessor, Gina Pleak, was promoted as the district’s director of title services.

Parsons came to BCSC from Huntington, where he served as assistant principal and athletics director at Riverview Middle School, and said he’s enjoying his new job.

“I want the Clifty Creek community to love their school and be proud of what we do each day here,” Parsons said.

Parsons, who started his 12th year as an educator earlier this month, is joined in Columbus by his wife, Arlene; 2-year-old daughter, Natalie; and 4-year-old son, Caleb.

He also said he’d like to revitalize the school’s Parent-Teacher Organization, or PTO, program this year as well.

“We are a community school, and we want the voice of our community in our school,” he said.

Parsons said his focus is to help build off the success seen under Pleak’s leadership, adding that he is optimistic about what the future holds for Clifty Creek and described BCSC as being genuinely student-driven.

In addition to Pleak, he credited Laura Hack, BCSC’s director of elementary education; Brett Boezeman, principal at Schmitt Elementary School; and Jennifer Dettmer, principal at Rockcreek Elementary School, in being mentors to him.

Dettmer said it has been enjoyable to work with Parsons, adding that teachers and administrators often collaborate throughout the district.

“I think like any of us at BCSC, (he’s) doing what’s best for kids,” Dettmer said.

She also said building relationships with students and parents is important in order to celebrate successes together and believes that Parsons will help continue to lead Clifty Creek in a positive direction.

Boezeman also said his conversations with Parsons have involved reviewing curriculum, Universal Design for Learning practices within BCSC and pedagogy in education as well. Boezeman described Parsons as an individual who is very focused on building relationships.

“I feel like he’ll be a good fit,” he said.

Parsons also said Clifty Creek possesses an energetic and diverse student body with a motivated faculty that desires to meet the needs of the whole child. He said he was excited when the district extended him the opportunity to lead the school alongside its faculty because of the growth and potential that lies within the school.

“I am excited to continue growing the success and legacy being established in the culture and academic excellence at Clifty Creek,” Parsons said.

When he’s not busy working, Parsons said he enjoys spending time with his family, playing golf and reading. However, as he continues to settle into his new job, getting to know students at the school will remain a top focus for him.

“Our number one priority is to build relationships with students,” Parsons said.

His role in education is one that allows him to change individuals’ lives, he said.

“The opportunity to impact the life of a child each day is special and each day I come to work, I have the opportunity to make a difference,” Parsons said.

About Michael Parsons

Age: 35

Education: Bachelor of arts in secondary social studies education, Taylor University; master of arts in special education and in educational leadership, Ball State University; working on a doctorate in educational leadership/policy studies at Purdue University

Work history: Parsons taught at Huntington County Community Schools Corp. in August 2006, teaching seventh-grade world geography and eighth grade U.S. history at Riverview Middle School. He transferred to Huntington North High School in 2010 to serve as a special education teacher. In 2011, he left Huntington for a job at Career Academy in South Bend, where he served as the director of curriculum and special education services. Parsons returned to Huntington in 2014 to become assistant principal and athletics director at Riverview Middle School.

Family: Wife Arlene and their two children, 2-year-old Natalie and 4-year-old Caleb.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com